Monday, November 16, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. San Andreas - I love a good ol' natural disaster movie. In the 90s, we had so many good ones - Twister, Armageddon, Deep Impact, Volcano, Dante's Peak (ok..."good" is a relative term). If you enjoyed those movies, then I think you will enjoy San Andreas. It follows the exact same formula, has a fantastically cheesy cast, and spectacular scenes of destruction. I'm not a big fan of The Rock; the only film I found him bearable in was Pain & Gain. I didn't mind him in this, but probably because I really, really like both Carla Gugino and Alexandra Daddario. I've loved Carla Gugino since I was 12 from Son in Law (I have no idea why, but I loved that movie). She was (and still is) one of the most beautiful women in the world. It's a little ridiculous that Daddario is playing her daughter, they are only 15 years apart, but they do sort of look alike. Daddario is on my list of up-and-coming actresses, but right now she has been coasting on her looks too much (I *knew* that conservative buttoned up top was coming off at some point in this movie, and OH LOOK, yup, right before she gets really, really wet). I'm not complaining (she's STUNNING), but I also see a shimmer of talent and I hope she gets the chance to let that shine, as well. She carried her scenes, because the brothers that she shares her scenes with are awful. The one guy (I refuse to learn his name) has a really terrible British accent. The accent isn't even necessary - just because he's a tourist doesn't mean he has to be from The U.K.. He could have just been from small town America (I don't even know if he's American, but he's certainly not British). All of their scenes were pretty repetitive with her just shouting "trust me, my dad will save us", but really she should have yelled "he's the fucking Rock". The earthquake premise is definitely terrifying. I was born in California and spent every summer there until I was 19, so I experienced a few. The one I remember the most is when I was 10, and I was on an airplane (by myself) when it hit. They wouldn't let the plane land, and when they finally did, everything was chaos. It definitely felt like the end of the world to me. I know that a gigantic quake along the San Andreas Fault line is expected in our lifetime, so the movie felt like a possibility. I don't know if it's possible for it to be felt on the East Coast, but you know, dramatic effect and all that. Tsunamis are natural effects of earthquakes, so it seemed a little dumb that they didn't expect one to happen. And to be clear Tsunamis are the scariest of all natural disasters.

2. Southpaw - This movie is exactly what I was expecting. Led by an outstanding performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, it's a predictable comeback story of a boxer who lost everything. I was entertained, for the most part, but I just feel like it's the same story that I've seen so many times before. *spoilers ahead* I knew the wife was going to die (I read it somewhere; someone was complaining that McAdam's role was cut short and I say thank fuck for that because she's awful in this - her dying scene "I'm cold". Jake had to be embarrassed for her.). I figured it would be an accident, though, like a car accident, not that she got shot by a rival boxer's gang. It added some intensity to the last boxing scene, but realistically it's a little too sensationalized, even for boxing. I'm not big on the sport, itself, considering that I am anti-violence, I don't find it appealing to watch people beat the shit out of each other. I watch violent movies (and enjoy them), but hopefully I don't have to remind you that movies aren't real. I understand, though, how someone who has lived a rough life, can use boxing as a form of therapy, and an outlet for their anger and grief. So, it's not something that I think shouldn't exist, I just don't want to see it. Does that make sense? Anyway, I think this movie is worth watching for Gyllenhaal's performance alone. It's my favorite performance of the year, so far.

3. Inside Out - It's official, I'm dead inside. I really don't want to shit on a movie that is this universally praised (which is why I usually keep my mouth shut when people talk about the Toy Story movies), so I will just focus on the main thing that bothered me, which is the message that it is presenting. It's incredibly confused, and as someone who suffers from depression, it is dangerous. Now, to me, this movie is about the emotion that is "sadness" NOT depression. Yet, every review that I read is about how this movie tackles depression. At first, I would agree with reviewers, the movie is about the chemicals in your brain, and about what happens when those chemicals suddenly stop working correctly (chaos reigns). However, the "lesson" is that sadness is a basic, normal part of a healthy brain and sometimes we need to let it in the driver's seat. That is, indeed, a great message. This little girl has plenty to be sad about, moving away from her friends, the stress of pleasing her parents, etc., so the message is that sadness is not a chemical imbalance; it's normal. So, if this movie "spoke" to you, then good news for you, you probably don't suffer from depression. Depression hits for no reason (sure, it is sometimes sparked by a life-changing event), and is not cured by letting yourself feel sadness. In fact, you feel nothing. I guess, I'm not as upset about the actual movie, as I am by how people interpreted it. I don't see how anyone that suffers from depression could disagree with me; if depression could be cured with some empathy and a hug, well, wouldn't that just be delightful? Maybe my own depression prevents me from feeling anything for this movie, but I did recently bawl hysterically during an episode of America's Next Top Model, so maybe I'm not totally dead inside. Also, I have a hard time connecting to the whole "core memory" aspect because I'm pretty sure if I accessed any of those I would want to slit my wrists (let's be real, not everyone has great memories of their childhood). On a less emotional note, there are a few moments of genius - like when "facts" and "opinions" are thrown in the same box, the imaginary boyfriend "I live in Canada", and the tween boys brain screaming "Girl! Girl! AAAAAH!" at the end made me laugh harder than I've laughed in a while.

4. Terminator Genisys - Sadly, as horrible as this movie is, there has been worse this year. It's the 4th worst movie so far this year. That's the nicest thing I can say about it. It didn't have to be so bad. The Terminator movies have never been anything but cheesy fun (aside from Terminator 2, which is an awesome movie). The worst part is Jai Courtney (obviously). I don't understand how he is still given parts after the atrocity of that Die Hard movie. And I just found out he's in the Suicide Squad movie! Way to ruin EVERYTHING, guys. He is so bland and boring and just plain terrible. The second worst part is Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor. Connor is a legendary kick-ass character, so it's tough to fill Linda Hamilton's shoes, but Clarke doesn't even come close. She's a beautiful woman, but she has no presence. Sorry, I don't really care for her on Game of Thrones, either, but I do like her character. The third worst part of the movie is that I am *pretty sure* this plot has happened before...right?!? Or am I crazy? It's been a long time since I've seen any of the Terminator movies, but I felt like I was watching a reboot instead of a sequel. Maybe that was the intent? I don't know. At least J.K. Simmons made me laugh a few times ("Goddamn time traveling robots!").

5. Magic Mike XXL - Three things I read about this movie: 1. It's better than the first. 2. The Joe Manganiello scene is one of the best of the year. 3. It's about female empowerment. This is all BULLSHIT. 1. I didn't hate the first one, but there was definitely room for improvement and this movie does not do it. I was completely bored to death for most of it. I thought the first one was a bit cheesy (terrible dialogue), but it had a good story. This one has no story. It's just a group of guys traveling to a stripper convention and um...finding themselves? I guess? 2. If a guy walked into my place of work and started sexually dancing to The Backstreet Boys like that, I would call the cops. I think any sane woman would. And I don't find him sexy at all (I would still call the cops, even if I did find him sexy). I actually don't think any of them are sexy. I love Channing Tatum because I think he's funny and he is an extremely talented dancer. And I think Matt Bomer is very pretty, but sexy? Nope. You know why? None of them have any personality in this movie. 3. Female empowerment? WHAT? Where? Women paying men to give them compliments and pretend like they are attracted to them? The scene where this group of men tell women to "own it" (referring to their sexual desires)? Sorry, but that's just another case of the male savior syndrome. It's men making women feel good about themselves. WE DON'T NEED THIS. This movie is just perpetuating the idea that we do, and it's fucking depressing. Ok, now that I got that out, there are some things I liked about this movie (when I wasn't bored to death). Amber Heard is a Goddess. For real. I love her reaction to the dance at the end, and I love that you could tell it was a genuine reaction (she spoke about how Tatum didn't tell her the intensity of the dance). I was also so excited by Donald Glover, as a performer because Childish Gambino's Camp album is my favorite modern rap album. I was prepared for an awesome performance, but it fell so flat. Such a disappointment, but I still love him. The highlight of the movie was the final performance. All of them did their own thing (you know, because they found themselves...I guess?), and it was all very entertaining.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Pitch Perfect 2 - I liked the first one, but I wasn't as enamored by it as most were. It was just a combination of Bring it On and Glee, and it definitely wasn't as witty as either of them. The sequel is more of the same, and unfortunately seems even less witty. Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) is overused and she absolutely ruined one of my all-time favorite songs ("We Belong"). It's so bad that I actually hate her now. HATE. Also, I still don't get Hailee Steinfeld. I guess she might have been good in True Grit (I still haven't seen it. I know!), but she hasn't been good in ANYTHING else. She has a decent voice, but her song (I don't know what it's called, so I'll just call it "The Flashlight Song"), is certainly no "Cups". There are so many scenes that are meant to be funny that I just stared at the screen in complete confusion. HOWEVER, there are a few very funny moments. My favorite is the underground competition (completely ridiculous, but at least it was funny). When they had to "sing a song about butts" and Kendrick responds "anything on the radio". Plus, the Green Bay Packers?! Haha! Seriously?! If you enjoy music mash-ups, then this is a highly enjoyable scene. It's a cute movie, but I guess I just don't see why it's so popular.

2. The Age of Adeline - Not as terrible as I was expecting, but I had really low expectations, so that's not saying much. I absolutely adore Blake Lively. She isn't a great actress, but she is so extremely beautiful and she always seems so happy and nice in interviews. I was a huge fan of Gossip Girl, mostly because of her and of course, Blair "leggings are not pants" Waldorf. I think Lively did a decent job in this role. There is something magical about her, like a sparkle in her eye, that makes this supernatural story a little believable. It's not realistic in any sense of the word, but they explain the "magic", and then they follow through with it, so it doesn't have to be realistic (it's fiction, like most movies). To me, it's a beautiful tale of the joy that is in life, but also in death. There is something to be said for living a full life and dying in peace. Adeline is denied this basic life experience and it is lonely and unsatisfying. I think I would have been fully on board if it weren't a love story. A very awkward and weird love story. Or maybe if it was a love story, but it didn't have the "other" love story twist? I don't know, something about it just doesn't sit right. I do like that she falls for Ellis because he is intelligent. Her response to "I don't want to come across as a know-it-all" is "too bad, I adore know-it-alls", and it is my favorite line in the movie. I don't think she means the intended obnoxious behavior of "know-it-alls", but instead that she is attracted to people who aren't afraid to show their knowledge and passion for certain topics. Having lived for so long and having so much life experience, she would certainly get bored with someone of average intelligence. I wish the movie moved a little quicker, because there is definitely some pacing issues, but overall, I don't know why, I think I kind of liked it.

3. The Gunman - I read some reviews that are really harsh on this movie, but a few of my "movie people" said good things about it, so I watched it with an open-mind (like I usually do). It does have an excellent cast. Sean Penn is one of my favorite actors (unfortunately), plus, Javier Bardem, Idris Elba and Ray Winstone are all top-notch. There are some excellent scenes, the trapped in the bathroom scene, in particular. It's just not a very memorable movie. I only watched it a week ago and I barely remember anything about it except that I hate the female character in it. She stops in the middle of a life threatening situation and demands "I'm not moving until you explain", um...there are people shooting at you, dumb-ass bitch, shut up and do what he says. makes me angry just thinking about it. I hate stupid female characters. It just ruins the whole movie, for me.

4. Entourage - I know, I know, as a feminist, how on Earth can I possibly watch this, but honestly, I think it's hilarious. Judge me if you want, but I promise you that any typical romantic comedy has the same, if not more, anti-feminist, misogynistic sentiment. I'd rather watch a montage of women confidently dancing around in bikinis, than a montage of a woman changing her outfit 30 times and disapprovingly looking at herself in the mirror. So, moving on, I enjoy these characters, especially Turtle. He is always my favorite. Him and Ronda Rousey make such a cute couple. Overall, I am satisfied with this movie, but it did feel a little dated, which is weird (there are references to Tonya Harding and Karen Carpenter, so awkward). I am also really, really annoyed that E. and Sloan were yet again, separated, so they spent the whole movie doing that back-and-forth thing that they did for 8 seasons. Drama had the best story arc, like usual, and he had the best line "I was given the gift of delusional confidence". And, as usual, the least interesting character is Vince. It's awkward that he is also the least attractive one in the group, too. Superficial, I know. But that's what this movie is: superficial fun. Don't take it so seriously.

5. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - *spoilers* I was annoyed by the trailer for this movie, because it seemed like it was just trying so hard to be quirky and "independent", and worst of all, it panders to movie geeks by having the main kid be a "filmmaker". It turns out, the movie is exactly what I feared from the trailer, but there are some really sweet moments. The part I liked the most is the message that death isn't the end. There is still so much you can learn about a person after they die. I wish this was explored more, but instead it is just shown in the last moments of the movie, as Greg discovers these amazingly creative book sculptures that "the dying girl" made. And in case you don't know how sappy movies work, "the dying girl", does in fact die, even though Greg insists that she doesn't several times in the movie. I'm not sure why the filmmakers chose to lie to the audience, maybe they thought it would add emotion, but I found it aggravating. I really like the supporting cast. Olivia Cooke is AWESOME on Bates Motel and she is the highlight of this movie. There is also Nick Offerman, Connie Britton and Molly Shannon. I wish the main kid was as good. He just bored me. The movie would have been better if it were just Earl and the Dying Girl. Or maybe just The Dying Girl. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Holiday Movie Preview: 6 Movies that I am Excited About

1. Macbeth (12/4) - Fassbender. Cotillard. Macbeth. I am there. It's already been released in other countries and it's getting fantastic reviews. I love Shakespeare, but I rarely like the film adaptations. This one looks like it might get it right, though. Also, did you know there is a 2006 film version of Macbeth that stars Sam Worthington??! That has to be hilarious.

2. The Big Short (12/11) - Cast of the year? Christian Bale, Brad Pitt & Ryan Gosling. That's the kind of cast that draws my attention without knowing anything about it. I wish I still knew nothing about it, but unfortunately, I saw the trailer before The Martian and I wasn't too impressed. It looks boring. Also, it looks like a bigger, "Hollywood" version of Margin Call (which wasn't boring, I actually really liked it, but I don't think I would ever watch it again). A movie like this is really going to rely on the dialogue - it needs to be fast-paced and witty, and I didn't get that at all from the trailer. I'm still interested in seeing it, though. If done well, it will surely be a front-runner during awards season.

3. Sisters (12/18) - I've always been a big fan of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Especially Poehler. She is definitely the funnier one. Recently, I read Fey's Bossypants, and it really made me an even bigger fan of her because she flat out admits that Poehler is indeed funnier than her. She recalls a lot of earlier struggles during their Second City run, and the push-back she got for calling out the minor roles for women (oddly enough, I read this book while on a cruise which featured the Second City performers, and to my delight it was very equally gendered. So, Tina's stubbornness paid off. Kudos.). Anyway, the two of them together is bound to be funny (Baby Mama had me in tears), plus Paula Pell wrote the screenplay and she is one of my favorite SNL writers.

4. The Revenant (12/25) - Now this has an intense trailer. I could barely breathe when it was over. First, it's directed by one of my favorite directors, Alejandro G. Inarritu. While I wasn't completely in love with Birdman, and other films of his, 21 Grams and Amores Perros still remain as two of my absolute favorite movies. Second, Leonardo DiCaprio is fucking determined to get an Oscar. I'm kidding, I don't think he actually cares about a stupid statue (He has to care a little bit, though...right?), but he just picks the toughest roles imaginable and excels every single time. As dumb as it is, he deserves the recognition that an Oscar stands for. He's deserved it for 20 years.

5. Joy (12/25) - I have no idea what this movie is about because the trailer is so random. It's just a bunch of chaotic scenes of beautiful people. But, it's David O. Russell. He's another one of my favorite directors (more for earlier stuff like Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees). This is his third movie with Jennifer Lawrence, and I haven't really liked their collaborations. She was good in Silver Linings Playbook, but I thought she was the weakest link in American Hustle. I am interested to see her headline a project like this, though. She definitely carries the Hunger Games movies, so I see her potential.

6. The Hateful Eight (12/25) - Other than the controversy of the leaked script, I know nothing about this movie. Just that it's Quentin Tarantino and that the cast is kind of awesome - KURT RUSSELL! JENNIFER JASON LEIGH! Fuck yes! I think it's going to be one of those "love it or hate it" kind of movies, but I usually enjoy Tarantino movies - even the ones that I don't love usually have something to still praise (the ones that I don't love will probably shock you, the Kill Bill movies and yes, Pulp Fiction).

P.S. - I realize that a BIG movie is missing from the list. Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I do plan on seeing it because I am a HUGE J.J. Abrams fan, but I've never seen any of the Star Wars movies (I KNOW! HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?!!), and I probably won't be able to watch them before this one is released. However, I'm sure this will be in the theaters for a few months, so I'm planning a Star Wars binge in January. Then, I will venture out to see the new one.